Goal.com South Africa spoke to Andrew “Jaws of life” Rabutla who was part of the Bafana squad that came back with a silver medal during the 1998 AfconGoal.com: Andrew, you have represented the country in the Afcon tournament back in 1998 and you guys were runners-up. Do you believe the current squad can do as well?
Rabutla: It’s difficult but one has to believe in the talent here. I also believe that Bafana can surprise many in this year’s Afcon. It’s a fact that our team hasn’t been playing well since coming back from Brazil, however there is still hope.
Goal.com: We are now 3 days before the start of the tournament. What was Jomo Sono’s words back in 1998 as you guys were in Burkina Faso for the tournament with only a few days to go?
Rabutla: Remember, that squad was criticized a lot because Jomo left the likes of Doctor Khumalo out of his squad but he motivated us and made us believe in ourselves. He told us to go out there and prove the critics wrong. Our current squad needs motivation from Gordon Igesund because they need to go to the tournament physically and mentally fit.
Goal.com: Andrew, South African football declined since then. What do you think has been the problem?
Rabutla: We were hungry. We wanted to make names for ourselves because if you remember very well, we went to Burkina Faso with a lot of unknown players and some fans didn’t even know me. Benni McCarthy was still young and people didn’t know what he was capable of until he scored those goals. Our current players lack hunger.
Goal.com: Were you guys promised any incentive if the team reaches certain stages in the tournament?
Rabutla: It was not about the money back in the days. We wanted to play for our country. The only time Safa spoke about incentives was when we reached the Quarterfinals in Burkina Faso but we didnot know anything from the beginning.
Goal.com: You have mentioned Benni McCarthy who scored 5 goals during that 1998 Afcon and our current squad has got Tokelo Rantie who is one of the youngest players in the squad. What could be your advice to him?
Rabutla: Rantie should tell himself to do well and play to make a name for himself. He should be motivated because he will need a lot of mental strength to score in a tournament like the Afcon. I also believe that most countries know a little about him and that should be an added advantage.
Goal.com: Finally Andrew, How do you fancy our chances and what areas should Gordon be focusing on now?
Rabutla: Our Bafana team can play, but my problem is at the back. Our defenders have no confidence and they seem too soft. Upfront also, I believe that if we can get a goal in the first ten minutes against Cape Verde then players will get their confidence back and we will see more goals.